SunTrust Park, Atlanta, opened in March.
It’s been several months since the Atlanta Braves opened its new $672 million ballpark, and the entire project will be complete early next year once the 264-room Omni Hotel opens in the mixed-used development next to the venue.
SunTrust Park has over 41,000 seats — all of which were sold out for opening day and several games that followed. Almost every day of the week, the new stadium has baseball games throughout the rest of the season.
“The feedback’s been amazing on every level… from the fans, the team and the press,” said Brad Albers, the senior architect and associate principal at Populous, the firm that designed the ballpark.
Populous is no stranger to designing MLB ballparks, as SunTrust is its 19th new stadium, Albers noted.
“We’ve done work for nearly every team in Major League Baseball,” he said.
SunTrust Park has an adjoining 1.5-million-sq.-ft., mixed-use development called Battery Atlanta that houses a corporate office building for Comcast, over 500 residential units, a hotel, multiple restaurants and a small 4,000-seat music venue called Coca-Cola Roxy.
SunTrust Park and Battery Atlanta opened at the same time, however the hotel will open in early 2018, according to Omni Hotel & Resorts’ website.
The primary driver for the Braves to build a new stadium was that “they wanted to do something more around the stadium,” Albers said.
The $452-million mixed-used development that’s anchored by SunTrust Park reflects that vision.
The new ballpark broke ground in September of 2014 and opened March 31 with an exhibition game where the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Yankees 8-5.
“Once they made the decision to move away from Turner Field, they found this land up in the north suburbs in Cobb County,” Albers said. “It has really good access from all over town. The site itself was undeveloped, so they didn’t have to demolish anything.”
The entire site, including the ballpark and the mixed-used development, sits on 57-acres of land near the Chattahoochee River. The river inspired a fountain design inside the ballpark with trees.
Like all MLB stadiums, the culinary offerings are important, and the Braves wanted the food and beverage to reflect Southern and regional traditions, said Mason Hansen, senior interior designer and principal at Populous.
“We did extensive research early on,” she said. “We asked the Braves for a list of their favorite (culinary) destinations. They were interested in featuring local restaurants.”
Offerings include the Coors Light Chop House and a brewery called the Terrapin Taproom where Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is served. Delaware North is the food and beverage manager for the venue.
Although the ballpark is a new construction, the Braves wanted a classic, yet modern feel to both the exterior and interior.
“The Braves is the longest continuous franchise in the history of baseball. They wanted the ballpark to feel timeless. They wanted to touch on their history,” said Zach Allee, senior associate at Populous.
The team chose red brick for the outside and the inside features heavily textured wood and antique marble wood.
They also built a Hank Aaron Terrace where visitors can dine on ballpark food and look at Aaron’s iconic memorabilia. Aaron is a retired Braves player and is now senior vice president of the team.
The venue also has a huge canopy. “We made it the biggest in the MLB,” Allee said.
To ensure fan experience stays top notch, excellent wireless access at the venue was important, Hansen said.
“The biggest thing, when looking at the future fan, is that connectivity is a huge deal for us,” she said.
Overall, the new ballpark is a big hit. “Everybody is really happy with the way the ballpark turned out,” Albers said. “The players themselves love it, too. They like the new player facilities. The hitters like it. The lighting is phenomenal.”
SunTrust Park was built in Cobb County, Georgia, replacing the baseball team’s previous home at Turner Field, which is roughly 19 miles south of the new ballpark.
Turner Field — which hosted the 1996 summer Olympics before it became home to the Atlanta Braves in 1997— will now be converted into a football stadium for Georgia State University.